The Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY

Huff House

In the Fall of 1998, with the blessing of Elder Ephraim, Elder Joseph Voutsas and Fr. Germanos Ponitkas purchased the 188 acre property known as the Huff House Golf Resort in Roscoe, NY for $2,500,000. Three lay-disciples from Toronto had taken second mortgages from their houses for $100,000 each and donated it for the down payment of the property, which helped greatly. Two of the donors gave the money as donations and the other donor gave the money as a loan. There was also a $25,000/month mortgage for the first 2 years and with the help of donations, the two monks paid off the mortgage.

Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)
Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)

Many of the original structures of the Golf Resort have been torn down. The structures that remained have had their exteriors and interiors redone, and new buildings have been erected. The property value has also sky-rocketed. The amount of money put into each new building (chapel, trapeza, monks’ quarters, new reception area, etc.) averages at over 2 million dollars/building.

The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.
The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.

At the end of December 1998, Abbot Joseph, together with 3 monks (Fr Germanos, Kassianos & Epifanios) and 4 novices (Symeon, Philotheos, Alexios and Michael) departed St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ and drove to Roscoe, NY to start setting up St. Nektarios Monastery. They arrived in early January 1999. Fr. Seraphim came from Arizona shortly afterwards. Due to problematic issues, Elder Joseph sent Fr. Seraphim back to Arizona after a brief stay at St. Nektarios Monastery. The monks were instructed to tell pilgrims that Fr. Seraphim was only sent up on loan to help start the monastery. This was so the pilgrims wouldn’t be scandalized

Brotherhood of St. Nektarios at Russian Synodal Building, NY.

During Holy Week of 1999, Elder Ephraim visited the Monastery and tonsured the four novices as monks in the old chapel. Elder Ephraim did not change the names of the new for two reasons:

  1. Because they were recently baptized converts who just changed their names at baptism.
  2. So the lie that they were given as an obedience to tell people would be more believable—The new monks had an obedience to tell people they were tonsured in Arizona but their koukoulis weren’t made yet and they had just received their koukoulis now. This was to cover-up the fact that Elder Ephraim visited the monastery and performed an ecclesiastical function without the knowledge or permission of the Bishop.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.

Some years later, Elder Ephraim again secretly visited St. Nektarios and tonsured 4 novices: Kosmas (Jason), Ephraim (Gerasimos), Nektarios (Gregory), and Damianos (Anestis). This time, the tonsure took place in the new chapel as the old chapel had been converted into a living room for the monks and a temporary dorm when the monastery couldn’t accommodate all the visitors in the guest houses.

The First Chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc.—The Upstairs Living Room

Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.
Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.

The first church at St. Nektarios Monastery was located in the upstairs living room of the white building, originally dubbed “the main house.” The iconostasis from St. John the Theologian Monastery (closed in 1997) was used, as well as all the other materials from that chapel. The Chapel had golf green wall-to-wall carpeting. The use of the living room as a chapel was a temporary solution until the main church could be built. When the temporary chapel was no longer needed, it was converted back to a living room—a couch occupied the area of the Holy Altar, a computer station the area of the Proskomide. The former narthex was also used as temporary sleeping quarters when the guest houses became full and there was nowhere to put the extra pilgrims.

Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks' quarters.
Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks’ quarters.

When Geronda Ephraim secretly visited the monastery during Holy Week of 1999, he gave obediences on where to build everything and how the monastery should look. Geronda Ephraim told the abbot to build the main church where the tennis courts are and the trapeza would be where the current monks’ quarters are now built.

The Present-day Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado (formerly, the Chapel of St. Nektarios)

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The new chapel—which was formerly a Gaming/Entertainment Room—was finished shortly before the first Feast Day of the Monastery in September 1999. Of course, there was still lots more work to be done, this was only the initial groundwork so it could be used as a Church. The new chapel was originally dedicated to St. Nektarios. During the mid-aughties, Elder Joseph decided to change this and re-dedicated the chapel to Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. This was done for two reasons:

  1. The monastery needed another feast day type event to help generate more income and donations for all the projects that were taking place and will continue to take place.
  2. The large church that has yet to be built will be dedicated to St. Nektarios and it wouldn’t make sense to have two chapels dedicated to the same saint.
The 3D sculpture of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.
The 3D icon of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.

The present-day chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc., Roscoe, NY is dedicated to the Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. So far, it has cost the monastery a couple million dollars to “beautify God’s house.”

Some Aspects in the Construction of the Chapel

The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.
The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.

In order to do the stone work and add a bell tower, etc. the pre-existing structure needed some foundational reinforcement. [NOTE: The bell tower was originally going to be taller. Before it was completed, Gerondissa Olympiada drove Gerondissa Ephraimia, abbess of the Archangel Michael Monastery on Thassos, for a visit. Gerondissa Ephraimia told Geronda Joseph the bell tower should be lower, so he changed the plans and did obedience to her suggestion].

The monastery hired Joe Valentine—owner of Valentine Construction Company, Inc. in Deposit, NY—to do the work. Joe Valentine’s crew was so impressive, that the monastery would hire them to do the foundation and concrete work of all their future projects. And thus, Valentine Construction’s annual revenue became 1 to 2.5 million dollars.

Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas
Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas

The Valentine crew became very close with the monks at the monastery. When Joe Valentine was in a custody battle for his baby boy, he asked Geronda Joseph if he could testify as a character witness for him in court. Geronda Joseph told him he didn’t know the language that well and it would be difficult for him to testify. However, Geronda Joseph gave Fr. Epifanios the obedience to testify as a character witness, which he did, and Joe Valentine won custody. Geronda Joseph later told the fathers that he didn’t testify for him because if something bad happened later, his name would be attached to it. He also told the fathers, and Joe himself, that he won custody because of all the help he gave to St. Nektarios monastery, etc.

Concrete

According to the Masters Concrete webpage, as of November 23, 2009, Masters Ready Mixed Concrete (Kingsley, PA) has provided approximately 1900 yards of concrete between the two buildings.

Also see an interview with Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas of St. Nektarios Monastery concerning the benefits of Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).

http://www.specifyconcrete.org/project-profiles/view/st-nektarios-monastery

Stone Work

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The Monastery ordered their stones from a New York State company, Champlain Stone, Ltd. South Bay Quartzite® was the material used for the Chapel’s exterior. It is advertised as: “A quartzitic sandstone with an advancing and receding surface that resembles a windswept and sandy beach. Visually smooth, yet heavily textured with a blend of tan, antique white, ice blue, amber, and brown. South Bay Quartzite® will enhance any home from warm beach cottages to cozy cabins deep in the woods.”

http://www.champlainstone.com/south-bay-quartzite%c2%ae.html

The stone work itself was done mainly by a crew of Ecuadorian stone masons who work for a Greek man named George from New York. The Fathers also helped out with the project. The Ecuadorians’ work was so impressive that they were to be hired for other projects as well. The fathers also respected their ethical work etiquette: “They don’t swear, smoke, and they don’t talk much, just work.” Later, during the construction of the new monks’ quarters, the Ecuadorians experienced a big temptation.

Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Father Raphael had stolen a radio from the pick-up truck of a Mexican work crew doing the drywall. As the drywall crew couldn’t imagine a monk stealing their property, the only other suspects were the Ecuadorians. There was nationalistic and heated tension between the crews from that time on. When Geronda Joseph discovered the stolen radio during a routine, random cell check, he was almost ready to call the police on Fr. Raphael. As Geronda Joseph has repeatedly told Fr. Raphael, “If it wasn’t for your father, Geronda Ephraim would have sent you home ages ago!”

Page 12 of the brochure below has pictures of the stonework on the chapel.

Framing/Roofing

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One of the main crews the monastery uses for framing is JP Construction, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, which is owned by John Paralavos. They were used for the extension of the Chapel, as well as all the other building projects. His crew was given special liberties: they could smoke and get drunk on monastery property. Like the other crews that did jobs at the monastery, the workers would stay overnight and sometimes for an entire week. One of John’s workers was an alcoholic. The abbot would give him a large cup of Metaxa every night as a reward for a good day’s work.

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The story of how John became close to the monastery is interesting. Shortly after he visited the monastery with his family, the abbot read an article in one of the Greek papers which listed the richest Greeks in America—the abbots and abbesses like to know which pilgrims need “special attention.” When the abbot saw Johns  name  he decided to cultivate and groom him. This is a common practice with most of the wealthy Greeks that visit the monasteries: special treatment, groom and cultivate. The monasteries have a lot of bills and expenses and wealthy donors are a good asset. John Paralavos’ wife had lupus so he was already in an emotionally vulnerable state that could be easily manipulated. Regular blessings with St. Nektarios’ relics, house visits, taking him on a trip to Arizona to meet Geronda Ephraim, etc. also helped.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery

One time, John told one of the monks at St. Nektarios that he was thinking of asking Geronda to do a holy water blessing of his house. This monk told Geronda Joseph just before John and his wife went in for confession—it is a common practice for monastics to relay everything a pilgrim has told them before they go into confession. Geronda Joseph brought it up to them before they could ask and John started hailing him as a holy prophet, which the abbot dismissed. Later, the abbot asked the monk if he told John he had been informed beforehand about John’s desire to ask for the blessing. The monk responded, “No, I didn’t say anything.” The monk was then given an obedience not to tell John that he had told the abbot beforehand. Thus, John could continue to believe that the abbot was a God-inspired prophet who read his heart.

http://www.schmidtswholesale.com/

Stastidia in the Church

The stastidia in the Church were designed and made by the company in Serres, Greece that does all the wood work for Elder Ephraim’s monasteries in North America (chairs in the church, iconostasis’, etc.): Eleftheriadis Bros Sa.

Before the stastidia were made, there were wooden chairs for the pilgrims, and cushioned arm chairs for the monastics. Periodically, some pilgrims would become scandalized that the monks “sat in fancy chairs” while the pilgrims were forced to sit in “less comfortable chairs” or stand. One pilgrim even had the audacity to quote scripture to some of the monks in this regard, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues…”

Stasidia

Each individual seat cost close to $600, the Bishop’s Throne cost much more. The monastery made a plea letter to raise the funds to cover the cost and mailed it out to the pilgrims on their mailing list. With the help of donations, the monastery was able to cover the cost of the stasidia. The abbot would sometimes state, “It’s the poor people who build this monastery.” He gave a homily to a group of close spiritual children visiting the monastery and related a story:

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“There was one man in New York who is very rich. He made a comment that he’d donate if there was going to be a plaque with his name stating he donated. The pilgrim told the rich man that the monasteries aren’t like the parishes in the world and don’t do plaques of honor. The rich man replied he wouldn’t give a cent, then. And to his shame, poor women who work hard cleaning toilets and save up money—which they hide from their husbands—gave donations for the entire amount of a stasidia. It’s the pain and sweat of the poor that build the monasteries.”

Address: Serres 621 21, Greece

Phone: +30 2321 078297

http://www.eleftheriadi.gr/

Iconography in the Church

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George Filippakis of Woodbury, NY, is an artist who specializes in Byzantine iconography. He was commissioned to do the iconography at St. Nektarios Monastery, Inc. His first project was in the Trapeza, and then he did the Archangel Michael Chapel. The cost of the Church’s iconography was quite a few hundred thousands of dollars.

100% Beeswax Candles

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The candles in the narthex are hand-made from real beeswax by the monks of St. Nektarios with the help of various pilgrims. Originally they were manually dipped by hand. In 2008, Geronda Joseph decided to order a $20,000 candle-making machine from Greece which would do most of the work for the monks.

The beeswax was originally bought from a company in Babylon, NY. Geronda Modestos offered Geronda Joseph his contact in China, where they bought “100% pure beeswax” for $1/lb., however, it had a funny smell. Though pure beeswax is expensive, and the prices increase yearly due to the high death rate of bees and hive collapses, the recycling of used candles from the narthex in the candle-making process helps cut the costs.

http://www.spwax.com/

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St. Nektarios was one of the last of 8 monasteries to be established in the year of 1998 via the blessing of then Archbishop Spyridon (2 in Florida, 2 in North Carolina, 1 in Texas, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Illinois and finally the 1 in NY). 1998 was a busy year for Elder Ephraim having to oversee the establishment of 8 new monasteries in less than 12 months, which his disciples state is further proof of his sanctity.

As two other monasteries have feast days in November, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate their main feast day on September 3, the day of the translation of the relics of St. Nektarios. This can ensure that each monastery can still attract peak numbers of visitors for their individual feast days, as well as allow the monks or nuns from those monasteries to travel to each others’ feast day celebrations.

The monastery has grown to over 20 monks with only a few monks having left in its 15 years of existence.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/263270549/Letter-from-St-Nektarios-Monastery-s-Lawyer-attempting-to-take-down-a-TUMBLR-page

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The Concept of “Validation” in Geronda Ephraim’s Monasteries

“Validation” is a buzzword that is thrown around frequently in some of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word validate as follows:

2a. To support or corroborate on a sound or authoritative basis.

2b. To recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of

Filotheou Brotherhood late ca. 80s/early 90s [Geronda Paisios of Arizona, kneeling far right, Fr. Germanos of NY kneeling opposite]
Filotheou Brotherhood ca. late 80s/early 90s [Geronda Paisios of Arizona, kneeling far right, Fr. Germanos of NY kneeling opposite]
In Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries, “validation” is normally used in the context of Geronda Ephraim: what he did or didn’t say, what miracles he performed or didn’t, what he does or doesn’t do, etc. It is quite common to find the “broken telephone” phenomena amongst the monasteries’ pilgrims. It is also common for rumors to spread around, such as, “Geronda Ephraim said the Antichrist has been born during a homily.” Thus the monks and nuns constantly “validate” and do not “validate” the various stories and rumors that spread amongst Geronda Ephraim’s followers.

A standard rule of thumb for the monasteries is that any negative story—whether true or false—is automatically dismissed as “invalid.” If it cannot be outright denied, it is minimized. If someone involved relates the scandal or embarrassing (for the monastery) incident to other pilgrims and spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim, then a system of damage control is put into effect:

  1. If the person telling the story (or “gossiping”/”slandering”) is a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim, then the Geronda or Gerondissa will talk to the individual directly. This will usually start with asking the individual why they repeated such things and ending with an obedience not to repeat the story again. If the individual is resisting the admonitions, they may be told some cautionary tales about all the tragic things that happen to individuals who speak against or go against Geronda Ephraim; “punishments from God.”
  2. If the individual “running his mouth” is not close to the monastery, they are easily dismissed to others as “liars,” “deluded,” having “psychological problems,” etc. Though these epitaphs have also been hurled onto close spiritual children of the monasteries who repeated big scandals or very private information to others.
  3. The Gerondissa or Geronda will also try to find out how many people were told and if they do not call each one individually to affect damage control, they may call the main persons of those pilgrim circles and ask them to tell the others.
  4. The Gerondissa or Geronda will also call all their monastics (or at least the ones who are aware of the scandalous incident) and give them a strict obedience not to talk to anyone about the incident. “If anyone asks, I don’t have a blessing to speak to lay people.” If it is a monastic who has diakonimata where they have to somewhat talk with lay people, they might be told, “If anyone asks, say no (or I don’t know)”; if they keep persisting, tell them to ask the Geronda or Gerondissa. For a monastic, this is not lying or breaking a commandment; it is obedience. The only sin in obedience is not doing obedience.
  5. In the cases of former monastics talking about their personal experiences, they are easily dismissed as deluded. “They didn’t do obedience, they hid thoughts from their Geronda or Gerondissa, and the devil gained a foothold in their soul. They became deluded and left.” In some cases, the former monastic will be dismissed as one with lots of psychological problems, or even “possessed.”

Newly baptized converts, Filotheou Monastery. [Hieromonk Chrysostoms, Fr. Vasilios & Fr. Germanos are on the left under over-hanging tree branch]
Newly baptized converts, Filotheou Monastery. [Hieromonk Chrysostoms, Fr. Vasilios & Fr. Germanos are on the left under over-hanging tree branch]
The above are just a few ways in which the monasteries manoeuvre in order to protect their image, as well as keep the pilgrims in check. Their image must be kept pristine and immaculate, without scandal. Geronda Ephraim has given strict obediences to all his abbots and abbesses, “You must know and see everything that is going on in your monasteries. I do not want scandals, especially in front of lay people. I do not want to hear anything negative or complaints from pilgrims about your monasteries, etc.”

KVOA TV TUCSON 4: MONASTERY MYSTERY REPORT (2005)

Sometimes the monasteries cannot silence those who reveal their secrets, or simply speak about the things that go on behind closed doors. At this point, a discrediting campaign begins. If this doesn’t work then they will sometimes utilize lawyers as a scare tactic. These tactics were used a day or so before the KVOA TV [Tucson 4] exposé on St. Anthony’s Monastery in 2005. Geronda Ephraim was really saddened that this exposé was being aired, and a call was sent out to spiritual children to call, fax, email, and flood the station anyway they could with support for the monasteries and Geronda. Also, spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim who are lawyers contacted the TV station and threatened them with legal action if there was anything false or slanderous. Spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Paisios began an internet campaign to discredit David Smith and the content of his webpage. David Smith’s webpage was taken down a couple years later, but an archived edition still exists:

https://web.archive.org/web/20070702092829/http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/

Geronda Paisios and David Smith.
Geronda Paisios and David Smith.

Pilgrims who had no knowledge of the inner workings of the monasteries—something only trusted monastics are privy to—began to defend the inner workings of the monastery based on the experiences that were tailor-made for them. Some spiritual children went as far as to threaten David Smith and try to intimidate him to stop talking about Geronda Ephraim.

Thus, true to their cult-like nature, and following the trend of every other cult that tries to silence their accusers, the monasteries and their pilgrims utilize a basic campaign of fear-mongering (“don’t speak against Geronda, it’ll end bad for you;” i.e. possession, losing salvation, etc.); intimidation, smear campaigns of discrediting (“psychological problems,” “deluded,” etc.).

In the monasteries, paranoia and suspicion was ramped up, making the atmospheres tense and suffocating.

NEKTARIOS MONASTERY TUMBLR PAGE

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Last year, a Tumblr page about St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Roscoe, NY) was started and it revealed many of the scandals and indiscretions that have occurred there since its’ foundation, as well as, private details not commonly known by the 01

general public. The monastery attempted to have the page pulled through numerous complaints to TUMBLR. When that method of harassment didn’t work, they hired a lawyer and accused the TUMBLR page of “impersonating the monastery,” stating that the page “misrepresents the ideological underpinnings” of the monastery’s “tenets.” The monastery’s use of the term “ideology” is quite interesting. In contemporary usage, this word is generally used in the context of politics, though in the case of religion, it refers to fundamentalists and extremists. Furthermore, the effect of an ideology is always to destroy true moral transcendence.1

According to the TUMBLR page, a disclaimer that they were not affiliated with the monastery was required in order to keep the page running. The TUMBLR page also posted the lawyer’s letter.

“This blog is not directly affiliated with St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery (According to the monastery’s lawyers, this blog “misrepresents the ideological underpinnings of their tenets” – http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/post/103102374101/account-temporarily-terminated-via-letter-from-the )”

https://www.scribd.com/doc/263270549/Letter-from-St-Nektarios-Monastery-s-Lawyer-attempting-to-take-down-a-TUMBLR-page

It was also noted that shortly after this page appeared, the Monastery’s website added a Notice to Users section stating:

Validations

NOTICE TO USERS: The information on this site is the property of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. This is the only website on the internet that is managed and approved by the monks of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. Information found posted on other internet sites and blogs regarding St. Nektarios Monastery and its monks has not been validated, and in certain instances is inaccurate and misleading. Everyone is free to read and reflect on the information on this site. However, none of the information on this site may be reproduced without the prior written consent of St. Nektarios Monastery. If you wish to use any of the material on this site please contact us. †May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you! http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/notice.php

This is a very interesting statement. Essentially, the monastery will decide what stories are valid and which ones are invalid. Even if a story is true, it will be dismissed if it mars the monastery’s image. Thus, the monastery will paint a tailored image of its blameless perfection.

p-koulouris_painting_geronda-josif_24x30 p-koulouris_painting_father-epifanios_18x24

ST. PAISIOS & ST. PORPHYRIOS BELIEVED GERONDA EPHRAIM WAS DELUDED

In another interesting twist, the monasteries also use stories that have not been validated in order to promote Geronda Ephraim. Capitalizing on the fame and glory of Saints Porphyrios the Kafsokalavyte and Paisios the Hagiorite, a recent trend in the monasteries is to tell pilgrims how these two Elders highly praised Geronda Ephraim and commented on his holiness, etc. However, none of these statements have been validated by these two Elders’ monasteries, nor are they found in any of the books about these Elders.

St. Paisios the Athonite does not mention Elder Joseph the Hesychast, or his synodia in his book on Athonite monks.
St. Paisios the Athonite does not mention Elder Joseph the Hesychast, or his synodia in his book on Athonite monks.

In the 90’s and early 00’s however, the stories at Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries were much different. The content of the stories centered on how much difficulty St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios gave Geronda Ephraim in Greece. Both of them were highly critical of Elder Joseph the Hesychast and stated on many occasions to many people that he was deluded. In Elder Paisios book, Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters—in which he gives short biographies of the greatest and holiest monks on Mount Athos—Elder Joseph is nowhere to be found.

Both these saints criticized and disagreed with his methodologies as an Elder. They believed he was deluded and they cautioned people about him. St. Paisios was also very critical of Philotheou Monastery and how things were run there; especially the practise of “yelling the prayer.” St. Paisios would tell pilgrims who were thinking of visiting Philotheou, “Don’t go there, it’s too noisy.”

In the mid-90’s, Geronda Joseph Voutsas (NY); Gerondissa Olympiada Voutsas (PA) and Gerondissa Melanie Mikragiannis (WI) would tell pilgrims about St. Porphyrios, “Yes, he was very holy but he was also very critical of Geronda Ephraim.” Apparently, all three of them, together with Sister Vryenni, went to visit St. Porphyrios when they were lay people, and heard themselves many negative things come out of St. Porphyrios mouth about Geronda Ephraim, “Things not worth repeating!”

Both St. Porphyrios & St. Paisios believed Elder Ephraim of Arizona and his elder were deluded.
Both St. Porphyrios & St. Paisios believed Elder Ephraim of Arizona and his elder were deluded.

The monasteries’ storyline back then was that both St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios were jealous of Geronda Ephraim; how holy he is, what spiritual heights he has reached, how he has revived the Holy Mountain, and all the thousands of spiritual children that flock to him, etc. Sometimes detailed descriptions were given about how both saints didn’t have the kind of blind obedience Geronda Ephraim had and that rendered it impossible for them to reach the same spiritual heights. Then details of how Apostle Peter and Paul fought, or St. John Chrysostom and St. Epiphanios of Salamis fought and cursed each other were given as analogies.

BOYCOTT OF ST. PORPHYRIOS & ST. PAISIOS BOOKS AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

Due to the above things, plus many more unspoken things that only the Athonite monks here in America know about, certain measures were taken at the monasteries to boycott the two saints. In 1998, at a gathering at the Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (TX), Geronda Paisios (AZ), Geronda Dositheos (TX) and Geronda Joseph (NY) decided to boycott the publications of Saints Porphyrios and Paisios—especially Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters, which was a huge slight to both Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim.

The decision to boycott St. Paisios & St. Porphyrios' books occurred during this weekend at Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas.
The decision to boycott St. Paisios & St. Porphyrios’ books occurred during this weekend at Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas, 1998.

During this time period, the backrooms of the bookstore at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (AZ) were flooded with unopened boxes of books about these two saints which were never going to be put out in the bookstore. Many of the boxes were sent free as a blessing, too. Not all the monasteries were joined in the boycott, but even those that were breached the boycott; there’s good money and profit in selling Geronda Porphyrios and Paisios books.

As these two saints became increasingly popular in the West, and more publications were being made available in the English language, the demand increased greatly. People start asking the monasteries in the boycott to order these books for them. Over time, the boycott slowly faded away, and much profit was made in peddling these two elders’ books. In time, the New York monastery—one of the original boycotters—even distributed a couple Elder Paisios’ books.

BOYCOTT ENDS: IN AN EFFORT TO VALIDATE GERONDA EPHRAIM, THE MONASTERIES DISSEMINATE UNVALIDATED QUOTES BY SAINTS PORPHYRIOS & PAISIOS ABOUT HIS HOLINESS

Due to increasing popularity in the English-speaking world, via the numerous English translations of their books, some of the monasteries involved in the boycott realized it was a good opportunity to make profit. As well, the monastics couldn’t really tell the pilgrims the books were boycotted, nor the reasons why. The books of these two saints were in high demand, pilgrims kept requesting them and asking if they could place special orders. Thus, giving into the pressure and demand, some of the monasteries lifted the boycott and began to sell Elder Porphyrios and Elder Paisios books. St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY even distributed a couple of the English titles.

Elder Paisios Epistles

Eventually, the old stories—true stories—about how much these two Elders (now officially canonized saints) fought against Elder Ephraim diminished. Then, the new stories came—stories not validated by the monasteries under these two saints, nor mentioned in any publications of these two saints, either validated or not. It’s now being taught that St. Porphyrios called Elder Ephraim the last saint, the last depository of healing, the saint of humility, etc. St. Paisios is now said to have prophesied the monasteries in America and extolled Elder Ephraim for his apostolic efforts.

The biography of Elder Arsenios states St. Paisios retracted his original opinion that Elder Joseph the Hesychast was deluded:

Elder Arsenios

“Elder Paisios admired the life and struggles of our ever-to-be-remembered Elder, Fr. Joseph. He told us:

-‘Oh, what I lost! When I came to the Holy Mountain the blessed Elder was living. I heard of his reputation and one of my acquaintances said to me: ‘Don’t listen. They are all lies. They are in error [πλανεμένοι]’. I believed him and did not go to get to know him and benefit from him. However, when his letters were published and I read them, then I understood what a rare person this was, and what a great treasure I lost.'” (Taken from Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller)

The humble grave of St. Paisios of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti
The humble grave of St. Paisios of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti

This book was published after both these men were long dead, and neither can validate or refute it; however, the monastery under St. Paisios, St. John the Theologian in Sourouti, has not validated this tale. Up until the mid-2000s, the monasteries here taught the Elder Paisios criticized Elder Jospeh the Hesychast and Geronda Ephraim as deluded, and had many critical things to say about Elder Joseph the Hesychast. This book is published by a monastery under one of Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s disicples, and it states that St. Paisios admired him.

The humble grave of St. Porphyrios, Kavsokalyvia, Mount Athos
The humble grave of St. Porphyrios, Kavsokalyvia, Mount Athos

It should be noted that neither the disciples of Saints Porphyrios and Paisios have validated any of the stories or prophecies these two supposedly said about Geronda Ephraim of Arizona. It should also be noted that none of the publications in circulation by or about these two saints mention any of the supposed quotes and prophecies about Geronda Ephraim of Arizona.

Thus, an interesting double standard has occurred at Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries:

    1. Any negative press about Geronda Ephraim and his monasteries is automatically dismissed as invalid. The monasteries will choose which stories are valid and will dictate their history and truth exactly the way they want people to view it. And these validations can only be okayed by the abbot or abbess.
    2. Any negative press about Geronda Ephraim and his monasteries that came from the mouths of Geronda Porphyrios and Geronda Paisios is no longer spoken of since they are both officially canonized as saints. It looks bad for the monasteries if two of the biggest contemporary saints after St. Nektarios discredited Geronda Ephraim and his elder (Joseph the Hesychast) as deluded.
    3. Today, stories that have not been validated by St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios’ disciples, and were unheard of until recently, are told to pilgrims as validated truth. These “invalidated” stories are capitalizations on the fame and holiness of St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios and are used to promote and validate Geronda Ephraim. Now that these two elders are officially canonized, their words have even more weight and validity in the orthodox world.
    4. Thus, the abbots and abbesses choose what stories are valid and invalid for their own monasteries. They also validate invalid stories from other monasteries to further promote their own agenda.
The brotherhood of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY with visiting abbots monks from other monasteries.
The brotherhood of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY with visiting abbots monks from other monasteries.

“MIRACLES” THAT WERE INITIALLY VALIDATED BY THE MONASTERIES

The “Holy Manna Relic”

Former seminarion Vasili Datch now monk Panteleimon at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY)
Former seminarion Vasili Datch now monk Panteleimon at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY)

For over a decade, one of the reliquaries of St. Nektarios Monastery had a “piece of Holy Manna” from the Old Testament. For over a decade, people venerated this “relic” with reverence, not realizing that is was a biblically impossible miracle for manna to last for more than a day, let alone 3,400 years or so. The Israelites were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Leftovers of manna stored up for the following day “bred worms and stank”: the exception being the day before the Sabbath (Preparation Day), when twice the amount of manna was gathered, which did not spoil overnight; because, Exodus 16:23-24 [states] “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ So they saved it until morning, as Moses said was commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.” A novice with a theological degree finally convinced the abbot that it was impossible for the fragment to be true manna from the Old Testament. Initially there was resistance, but the abbot finally decided the authority of the Old Testament was more valid than the word of the person who gave him the “relic.” The abbot ordered a new reliquary from Greece and did not include a space for the manna.

Stylianos Kementzetzidis and his fabricated Crypto-Christians of Turkey persecution and miracle stories

The monasteries have had a long history of “validation” issues. They validated and promoted Stylianos Kementzetzidis, a long-time spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim, and retold all his “miracle” and “vision” stories to visiting pilgrims. When it came to light that it was all an elaborate hoax to raise money for his ailing publishing house, Orthodox Kypseli, the monasteries stopped telling pilgrims these stories, but also tried to hide the fact that they were a lie, so as not to “weaken the faith of the faint-hearted.”

Stylianos

The monasteries that were involved in selling his “Crypto-Christian” miracle books and retelling his hoax stories to numerous pilgrims did not issue a disclaimer about the lie. They simply pulled the books and any literature from the bookstores and stopped repeating the stories. Certain monastics who had blessings to talk with lay people were given obediences not to tell pilgrims these stories were a hoax and lie, so as “not to scandalize them or create a stumbling block to their faith.” https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/stylianos-kementzetzidis-and-the-miracles-of-the-crypto-christians-in-turkey-hoax/

The miracle in Syria: Chopped up dead man sewn back together and resurrected

The monasteries also promoted the “Miracle in Syria,” even distributing falsified letters from the Jerusalem Patriarchate “validating” the miracle. Once it turned out to be a hoax that went away to. The flyers detailing the miracle were pulled and the monastics simply stopped relating the “miracle” to pilgrims. http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.ca/2009/01/great-miracle-in-syria-and-convent-of.html

Persistent frontal suture misrepresented as exclusive orthodox miracle

Figure 1- Brazil Complete metopic suture (arrow).The monasteries claim that priests on Mount Athos have crosses on their skulls; i.e. “an extra suture that runs down the front of their skull which is scientifically impossible and is only a miracle in orthodoxy,” etc. This “miracle” validates Orthodoxy as the only truth. Yet, it is well documented in medical literature and occurs throughout the world in both male and female populations; it’s called metopic (or persistent) frontal suture. The simplest spin on this, “Well, that’s the tradition passed down on Mount Athos.”

https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/persistent-frontal-suture-a-miracle-exclusive-to-orthodox-clergymen/

https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/persistent-frontal-suture-once-again-misinterpreted-as-an-orthodox-miracle-and-testimony-of-holiness-hieromonk-evdokimos-of-st-savvas-lavra/

SERAPHIM ROSE AND MANIPULATING MONK CORPSES

A pilgrim once asked an Athonite monk at one of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries about Fr. Seraphim Rose. The response was an issue about him only being chrismated (cannot be holy or a saint without orthodox baptism); there was an issue about him being idiorhythmic; there was issue of him saying things like there are no more elders (Geronda Ephraim was stated to be the holiest man alive and one of the greatest Elders in the history of the church). The pilgrim was told Fr. Seraphim Rose was deluded and issues of homosexuality were witnessed at his monastery while he was alive (apparently pilgrims to the monastery during those years later became monks at Philothoeu Monastery and told the other monks about the homosexual vibe they witnessed there).

In the monasteries, it is taught that Fr. Seraphim's disciples manipulated his corpse to make it look peaceful.
In the monasteries, it is taught that Fr. Seraphim’s disciples manipulated his corpse to make it look peaceful.

When the pilgrim asked about Fr. Seraphim’s repose and his smiling corpse with a peaceful expression, the Athonite monk responded that it was said that he had a very difficult death and that his disciples manipulated the body so it looked like he had a blessed repose. Yet, Geronda Joseph of Vatopaidi—whom Geronda Ephraim has mentioned in homilies did not have complete obedience and was problematic—has a similar smiling corpse and peaceful look on his face.

Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi L: Repose with mouth open. R: Afterwards, mouth closed and
Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi L: Repose with mouth open. R: Afterwards, mouth closed and “smiling.”

Thus, one is to surmise that Fr. Seraphim Rose’s death is not blessed—since Geronda Ephraim’s monks have not validated it as miraculous—but Geronda Joseph of Vatopaidi’s repose is blessed because it has been validated by the monks. The pilgrim also asked about Geronda Paisios (abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ), who praised Fr. Seraphim Rose in an Orthodox Word article as someone converts can look up to, etc. The monk chuckled and said, “That’s not what I’ve heard him say,” and left it at that.

The biologically natural process of corpses returning to their pre-Rigor condition misrepresented as an exclusive Orthodox monastic miracle

“A Monk’s Funeral: 30 hrs after death, the corpse retains its flexibility” [Athonite Moments, p. 200]
Furthermore, the Athonite monks in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries talk about a miracle on Mount Athos where monks do not experience rigor mortis—thus another “miracle exclusive to Orthodoxy.” However, depending on which monk one talks to, this is either exclusively Athonite monks, all orthodox monks throughout the world, or unsure. However, every mortician knows the technique of “breaking the rigor mortise.” Basically, you bend the limbs back and forth a few times and the joints will loosen up. This “breaks” the stiffness and the body is back to normal. Surely, Athonite monks know this trick if they’re teaching pilgrims that faces of corpses can be manipulated to look like they are smiling. Also, contrary to common perception the process of Rigor Mortis actually does reverse and the body returns to a flaccid state; the muscles losing their tightness in the reverse of how they gained it: i.e.: those larger muscles that contracted last will lose their stiffness first and return to their pre-Rigor condition. Thus, if a monastic is left out long enough before burial, it is natural for him to return to his pre-Rigor condition. No miracle, just natural process.

https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/orthodox-monks-dont-experience-rigor-mortis/

NOTES:

1 According to former Islamic extremist, Tawfik Hamid, “A religion becomes an ideology when the followers of this religion cannot tolerate the existence of those who have different views or beliefs, and when they understand their religious text literally and refuse to accept any way of understanding the religion other than their own way of understanding.” According to scholar David Satter, “Religion becomes an ideology when man-made dogma is treated as infallible truth.” http://www.frontpagemag.com/2010/jamie-glazov/symposium-when-does-a-religion-become-an-ideology/

Orthodox Monks Don’t Experience Rigor Mortis?

“A Monk’s Funeral: 30 hrs after death, the corpse retains its flexibility” [Athonite Moments, p. 200]
Pilgrims to Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries are taught about a “Miracle exclusive to Orthodoxy”—i.e., monks do not experience rigor mortis when they die. Typical of the other “exclusive miracles” which are taught at the monasteries, this one also has some grey areas. Depending on the monastic giving the sermon, it is either all orthodox monastics throughout the world, or just Athonite monastics. In some cases, the monastic giving the sermon will grab the book Athonite Moments and show the pilgrims a photograph of a monk being lowered into a grave with signs of flexibility and no rigor mortis.

Of course, if you question the monastic giving the sermon, they only have a cursory understanding of what rigor mortis is—which usually amounts to “all corpses are stiff after they die and any flexibility in a corpse is scientifically impossible.” What “proof” do they offer to validate their erroneous understanding of corpses, decomposition and rigor mortis?  A photograph from a book and their “authority” validates this “scientifically impossible” phenomenon.

“Black, white, red: An atmosphere of mournful quietness” [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
Similar to their erroneous claim of Persistent Frontal Suture being an “exclusive orthodox miracle,” the claim that a corpse without rigor mortis is an “exclusive orthodox miracle” is also scientifically and biologically erroneous. In both cases, “science is not needed to validate these miracles” because they are an Athonite oral tradition and “monks who speak to God know more than a worldly scientist.” Science is not always rejected by the monastics—if science validates something in orthodoxy, or if science cannot explain phenomenon which for the monastics validates a divine origin, then it is accepted. When science conflicts with orthodoxy, then it is dismissed as idle, vain, worldly knowledge that is incompatible with spiritual knowledge.

SOME OBSERVABLE AND PROVEN FACTS ABOUT RIGOR MORTIS

First of all, rigor mortis is easily “broken” by bending and moving the joints about. A common question people have for morticians is whether they need to break a corpse’s legs if the body doesn’t fit into the coffin properly. The answer is, of course, no. The legs bend quite easily even after death.

''Remember the day of death, but also the day of resurrection & judgment'' [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
”Remember the day of death, but also the day of resurrection & judgment” [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
Second of all, rigor mortis is basically a stiffening of the limbs. The joints become difficult to bend, but this does not happen with all bodies. There is a technique morticians use to get rid of it called “breaking the rigor mortise.” Basically, you bend the limbs back and forth a few times and the joints will loosen up. This “breaks” the stiffness and the body is back to normal.

The Athonite monks are aware of corpse manipulation because some of them have stated that Fr. Seraphim Rose’s corpse was manipulated by his disciples to smile, etc., to give the appearance that he had a saintly death.

http://theothersideoffunerals.blogspot.com.au/p/misconceptions-questions-collection-of.html

http://theothersideoffunerals.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/ask-undertaker.html

WHAT IS RIGOR MORTIS?

Rigor Mortis is the stiffening of the body after death because of a loss of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) from the body’s muscles. ATP is the substance that allows energy to flow to the muscles and help them work and without this the muscles become stiff and inflexible.

Rigor Mortis begins throughout the body at the same time but the body’s smaller muscles – such as those in the face, neck, arms and shoulders – are affected first and then the subsequent muscles throughout the rest of the body; those which are larger in size, are affected later.

gerontissa efpraxia

Rigor normally appears within the body around two hours after the deceased has passed away with – as we have already mentioned – the facial and upper neck and shoulder muscles first to visibly suffer from its effects. Many Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) have reported that upon discovering the deceased that their face might have taken on what looks to be a grimace; this is because the facial muscles have contracted as ATP drains from them.

Once the contracting of all the body’s muscles has taken place this state of Rigor – technically referred to as the Rigid Stage – normally lasts anywhere from eight to twelve hours after which time the body is completely stiff; this fixed state can last up to another eighteen hours.

Contrary to common perception the process of Rigor Mortis actually does reverse and the body returns to a flaccid state; the muscles losing their tightness in the reverse of how they gained it: i.e.: those larger muscles that contracted last will lose their stiffness first and return to their pre-Rigor condition.

http://www.exploreforensics.co.uk/rigor-mortis-and-lividity.html

 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT RIGOR MORTIS

Rigor mortis can be used to help estimate time of death. The onset of rigor mortis may range from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on factors including temperature (rapid cooling of a body can inhibit rigor mortis, but it occurs upon thawing). Maximum stiffness is reached around 12-24 hours post mortem. Facial muscles are affected first, with the rigor then spreading to other parts of the body. The joints are stiff for 1-3 days, but after this time general tissue decay and leaking of lysosomal intracellular digestive enzymes will cause the muscles to relax.

A Funeral Procession, Filotheou Monastery, Mt. Athos
A Funeral Procession, Filotheou Monastery, Mt. Athos

During rigor mortis, another process called autolysis takes place. This is the self-digestion of the body’s cells. The walls of the cells give way, and their contents flow out. Rigor mortis ends not because the muscles relax, but because autolysis takes over. The muscles break down and become soft on their way to further decomposition.

Thus, contrary to the misconceptions disseminated by the monastics, the flexibility witnessed in some monastic corpses during their funeral—which occur 24-48+ hours after their repose—is not “a scientifically impossible miracle which scientists cannot explain.” Rather, it is a natural process that is quite common and has been observed in corpses throughout the world, both orthodox and non-orthodox, lay people and monastics. Once again, the monastics misrepresent a natural phenomenon as an “exclusive miracle to Orthodoxy.” As stated above, in Greek-American orthodox monasteries, the “secular sciences” are generally not considered a “valid” source of information when it comes to understanding or interpreting natural phenomena and processes.

MONASTIC FUNERALS

Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos
Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos

The monastic funerals here in North America are unlike those in Mount Athos: the body is not flung into a hole, but rather it is placed in a coffin and lowered into the hole. Thus, there isn’t much contact with the body before burial other than the last kiss. So witnessing such “miracles” of corpses without rigor mortis here is uncommon. Of course, if the superior tells the monastics that the body is warm and without rigor mortis, then they will believe it is so, and will also transmit this “miracle” to the pilgrims who visit.

Constantine2

Each monastery has its own process of preparing the body for burial, again giving opportunity for manipulation. The body is then placed in the middle of the Church, usually under the polyeleos, and the monastics have to read the entire Psalter continually until the next day. Then the funeral service occurs in the church ending with the procession to burial. Depending on time and circumstance, this process can take from 24-36 hours or more. Thus, photographs of monks without rigor mortis after such a time period cannot be considered a “miracle exclusive to orthodoxy” as this can happen to any corpse; i.e. the natural return to the pre-rigor condition.

Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos' funeral procession at St. Anthony's Monastery
Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos’ funeral procession at St. Anthony’s Monastery

Hieromonk Michael Santos of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Roscoe, NY)

Hieromonk Michael was born to Reynaldo and Leonie Santos in 1969 in the Philippines. He is the middle child of two sisters, Michelle (formerly a novice nun at Holy Protection Monastery) and Myla. The Santos family immigrated to Canada when Fr. Michael was very young and settled in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario. Fr. Michael was raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

The Santos family (minus Michelle and Fr. Michael)
The Santos family (minus Michelle and Fr. Michael)

After graduating high school, Fr. Michael went on to the University of Toronto, where he majored in philosophy.

The southern entrance to Philosopher's Walk, University of Toronto.
The southern entrance to Philosopher’s Walk, University of Toronto.

In the mid-90’s, he was baptized by Geronda Joseph Voutsas at St. Kosmas Greek Orthodox Monastery in Caledon, Ontario. He was allowed to keep his original name, and it was one of the few baptisms performed by Geronda Joseph allowed to be videotaped.

The chapel at St. Kosmas Monastery, where Geronda Joseph baptized Fr. Michael.
The chapel at St. Kosmas Monastery, where Geronda Joseph baptized Fr. Michael.

Becoming a Monk He became a novice monk in 1998 at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ but was a member of Geronda Joseph’s synodia (at that time, due to Metropolitan Sotirios of Canada forcing their hand, the Brotherhood of St. John the Theologian Monastery in Picton, Ontario was forced to flee Canada and seek refuge at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ. They became the Brotherhood of St. Nektarios after relocating to Roscoe, NY in 1999).

St. Anthony's Monastery, AZ, where Fr. Michael started out his novitiate period.
St. Anthony’s Monastery, AZ, where Fr. Michael started out his novitiate period.

In Arizona, Fr. Michael mainly worked with the outside Fathers digging holes, planting palm trees, and doing hard labor. At the time, Geronda Ephraim nicknamed him “Kinezos” and “Kineziko” (meaning “Chinese” or “the Chinaman”).

Fr. Michael Santos
Fr. Michael Santos

In December 1998, the monks under Geronda Joseph drove up to Roscoe, NY and established the St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery. During Holy Week of 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited the monastery briefly. Along with 3 other novices, Fr. Michael was tonsured a monk by Geronda Ephraim in the old chapel of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. Once again, Fr. Michael kept his original name.

During Great Lent, 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited St. Nektarios Monastery secretly, in order  to tonsure four novices.
During Great Lent, 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited St. Nektarios Monastery secretly, in order to tonsure four novices.

At the time, because Geronda Ephraim came up secretly and tonsured the four novices (i.e. without the Bishop’s knowledge, nor his blessing to perform priestly functions) it was decided the four novices would keep their original names. This was also partly because 3 of them were converts and had their names changed in baptism already. As well, as the monastery had only been open a few months and not many people had visited yet, no one would know the difference. Geronda Ephraim, via Geronda Joseph, gave the novices an obedience in case lay people who had seen the novices without koukoulis in church asked them when they were tonsured. “We were tonsured in Arizona, but they didn’t have our koukoulis ready. We just received them.”

Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.
Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.

The old chapel, which was connected to the main white house, was later converted into a living room and part time guest quarters for feast days. Geronda Joseph also used the living room at night for his vigils.

The
The “main house’ as seen from the guest quarters.

Before his ordination, Fr. Michael fluctuated from working as an outside Father (construction), ekklesiastiko (taking care of the church), cleaning guest houses, to bookstore (receiving pilgrims and exhorting them spiritually). Also, he was one of the few fathers that Geronda Joseph trusted to go on errands outside the monastery (either driving alone or with another monk).

Fr. Michael holding the Kursk Root Icon (with Geronda Joseph)
Fr. Michael holding the Kursk Root Icon (with Geronda Joseph)

Novice Michelle Santos Fr. Michael’s older sister, Michelle, was a novice at Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery in Pennsylvania for a number of years. She started out at the original property in Weatherly, PA and relocated with the sisterhood to the new property in White Haven, PA.

Holy Protection Monastery, PA,
Holy Protection Monastery, PA, “sister monastery” of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY.

Fr. Michael held his sister in high esteem. When talking to pilgrims, he would refer to her as, “my sanctified sister.” It is said that he had pictures of her in his cell as a nun for inspiration in the struggle (and kept them up even after she returned to the world).

Pathway to the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery (2005)
Pathway to the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery (2005)

In the mid-2000s, she left the Monastery returned to the world, which evoked a lot of gossip and conjecture amongst pilgrims. As well, it put Fr. Michael in a difficult position as lay people would ask him in the bookstore, “What happened? Why did your sister leave?”

Geronda Joseph giving a speech in the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery.
Geronda Joseph giving a speech in the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery.

It is said that Michelle kept Fr. Mark Andrews as a spiritual Father for a short while afterwards, but it was awkward for her to return to Holy Protection for confession, as well, Gerondissa wasn’t comfortable with her returning as these things weaken the resolve of monastics (i.e. seeing their former co-strugglers in the world looking normal, healthy and happy).

Fr. Mark Andrews (Editor of Fr. Nicholas Palis' Translations)
Fr. Mark Andrews

Ordination to the Priesthood In 2009, Fr. Michael was ordained a priest. It should be noted that on Mount Athos, one of Geronda Ephraim’s prerequisites in determining if a monk was ready for ordination was whether or not he had prayer of the heart. There are various opinions among the elders in the American monasteries on whether or not Geronda Ephraim is as strict here in this regard as he was on Mount Athos.

Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the GOA, ordained Fr. Michael a deacon on Nov. 17, 2009.
Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the GOA, ordained Fr. Michael a deacon on Nov. 17, 2009.

Also, Fr. Michael was the recipient of a very special vision/miracle of St. Nektarios who appeared to him when he lost his balance off a ladder and carried him down to safety.

Archbishop Demetrios ordained Deacon Michael a priest on Nov. 18, 2009.
Archbishop Demetrios ordained Deacon Michael a priest on Nov. 18, 2009.

SOURCES: http://www.greeknewsonline.com/demetrios-visits-st-nectarios-monastery-in-roscoe/ http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/ http://www.goarch.org/archbishop/demetrios/enthronement NOTE: If one visits the official website of St. Nektarios Monastery, they will find the following notice:

NOTICE TO USERS

The information on this site is the property of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. This is the only website on the internet that is managed and approved by the monks of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. Information found posted on other internet sites and blogs regarding St. Nektarios Monastery and its monks has not been validated, and in certain instances is inaccurate and misleading. Everyone is free to read and reflect on the information on this site. However, none of the information on this site may be reproduced without the prior written consent of St. Nektarios Monastery. If you wish to use any of the material on this site please contact us. †May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you! http://stnektariosmonastery.com/notice.php Stories that may tarnish a monastery’s image and reputation, or expose some of the darker happenings in that monastery, will never be validated by a monastery and are usually dismissed as “ridiculous.” It is very easy for a monastery to discredit stories and there is a two-fold method that is very effective: 1) The superior will instruct the fraternity to deny everything if asked. 2) If the information is coming from a former monk or nun then they will be discredited as having mental illnesses, being delusional, or left the monastery jaded and are trying to retaliate via slander, etc. The above notice on the St. Nektarios website seems to be a direct response to this tumblr page: http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/ http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/post/103102374101/account-temporarily-terminated-via-letter-from-the

censorship1

There does not seem to be any indication on that Tumblr page indicating it claims to be the St. Nektarios Monastery or that it represents St. Nektarios Monastery. As with most celebrity “fan pages”, the reader assumes that the celebrity does not actually run the page, nor is it the official webpage of the celebrity (unless stated otherwise). Yet, St. Nektarios Monastery hired a lawyer to have that Tumblr page pulled down. The Tumblr page now has a disclaimer: “This blog is not directly affiliated with St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery (According to the monastery‘s lawyers, this blog ‘misrepresents the ideological underpinnings of our client’s tenets’).” It is imperative to keep an image of perfection unblemished, despite the fact that it is not in keeping with reality.

Hieromonk Chrysostomos, Fr. Michael in background.
Hieromonk Chrysostomos, Fr. Michael in background.
Fr. Michael and Geronda Paisios (AZ).
Fr. Michael and Geronda Paisios (AZ).

3 Michael

5 michael reading

7 michael

8 mich

9

Panagia Pammakaristos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Lawsonville, NC)

NOTE: This information is taken from http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/page/47

NC 1

Panagia Pammakaristos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. is a North Carolina Corporation filed on September 11, 1998. The company’s File Number is listed as 0470428.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is Tsirigotis, Dimitrios (Geronda Nektarios) and is located at 1631 Creasey Road Lawsonville, NC 27022. The company’s mailing address is 1631 Creasey Road Stokes County Lawsonville, NC 27022.

Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Nektarios
Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Nektarios

In 1998, Elder Ephraim took 3 monks originally from the St. John the Theologian brotherhood of Picton, Ontario—they were seeking refuge at the time in Florence, AZ until they could find their own monastery—and transplanted them to Lawsonville, NC where he had recently purchased a 120-acre property in order to establish the  Panagia Pammakaristos Monastery. These monks—Nektarios, Theophanes and Dionysios—were all originally from Toronto, Canada. The latter was a convert to Orthodoxy who was baptized in December 1996 at St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Monastery in Picton, Ontario (This monastery closed down in the Spring of ’97 after the brotherhood moved to St. Anthony’s Monastery).

Aerial view of the 120-acre monastery property.
Aerial view of the 120-acre monastery property.

Fr. Nektarios was chosen as the abbot. Earlier that year, Elder Ephraim had tonsured Fr. Nekatrios (Demetrios) before Fr. Theophanes (Anastasios)—despite the fact that Fr. Theophanes was a senior monk in rank by a couple of years to Fr. Nektarios. After the establishment of Panagia Pammakaristos, some of the older fathers stated this was a foreshadowing of future events. Fr. Nektarios was later ordained at the Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas. Also, Fr. Theophanes mother was a nun at Holy Protection Monastery at the first property in Weatherly, PA. Geronda Ephraim gave her the name Theophano.

Fr. Theophanes walking along the path.
Fr. Theophanes walking along the path.

Initially, Geronda Nektarios also had the task to liturgize at the 2 Florida monasteries and would rotate each Sunday. One of his disciples said that this was similar to his original spiritual Father, Geronda Joseph Voutsas, when he was abbot of St. John the Theologian Monastery. Geronda Joseph rotated each Sunday between his own monastery in Picton, as well as the two female monasteries in Bolton and Quebec. Today, Geronda Joseph is the abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY.
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY.

Fr. Dionysios returned to the world in late 2007 after 10 years of living the monastic life. After a year or so of listening to George Noory’s Coast to Coast radio show (which he recorded nightly during the church service and listened to after the service) and reading David Icke and other similar books that were being smuggled to him, he no longer believed orthodoxy was the absolute truth and became convinced that Christianity was a lie. He altogether lost his faith in Christianity well over a year before his departure from the monastery. Having a conflict of conscience, i.e. essentially being an agnostic with inclinations towards extraterrestrial origins and yet going through the motions of the monastics life with this mindset for over a year, he compelled himself to leave after talks occurred about possibly ordaining him to the priesthood.

Simandron.
Simandron.

Though this incident created a little hiccup in the smooth functioning of the monastery, he was soon replaced by a novice from Arizona.

Panagia Pammakaristos Icon, Feast Day (2008).
Panagia Pammakaristos Icon, Feast Day (2008).

The Monks have recreated Arizona in North Carolina: Lemons, olives, cacti

Cacti
Cacti
Cacti (Guest quarters in the distance).
Cacti (Guest quarters in the distance).

NC 5

Fr. Germanos Pontikas (St. Nektarios Monastery, NY)

Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas of St. Nektarios Monastery.
Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas of St. Nektarios Monastery.

Today is Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas’ name day (i.e. commemoration of St. Herman of Alaska). Born in 1950, he turned 64 last month. Originally from Pennsylvania, he left for Mount Athos in the late 80’s.  He started out at Filotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. He was on the same flight as Demetrios Maroulis from Toronto (now Geronda Dositheos, the abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas), but because they had an obedience not to tell anyone they were off to become monks, neither of them knew the others’ intentions, despite the continual crossing of paths and chatting, until they reached Filotheou. They became best of friends on the Holy Mountain.

While on Mount Athos, a relative would send pornographic magazines in the mail in an attempt to entice him out of the monastery and return home. Geronda Ephraim screened all the mail, or had a monk screen it for him. Incidents such as this is why the abbots/abbesses screen all the mail that comes in (i.e. open all the monks’ incoming mail to examine contents and read the letters) –it potentially “protects” the monastic from “harmful things” that could trip him up spiritually or entice them to leave the monastery. There are many monks and nuns who’ve had a relative send a manipulative, guilt-tripping letter. If the abbess or abbot had not intercepted it and read it but just handed it to the monastic, it could’ve caused “great harm.” Thus, most of those types of letters are thrown in the garbage before the monk or nun can read them. In the monasteries, only the trusted monastic, if not the heads themselves, collect the mail and it is brought directly to the abbess or abbot. In some monasteries, because a nun or monk went through the garbage and examined the contents from the mail, the abbess or abbot will have their cell attendant dispose of their garbage in a special way so it cannot be examined afterwards.

Fr. Germanos making eggs for the Fathers at Filotheou Monastery
Fr. Germanos making eggs for the Fathers at Filotheou Monastery

If anyone is familiar with how the prison system works, it’s the same concept: an inmate’s letter will be read, and parts that are “potentially harmful” to the inmate’s mental and emotional well-being are blacked out—same concept in the monasteries (the monastic life is also called “voluntary imprisonment” as opposed to the “involuntary imprisonment” of the correctional system).

In the monasteries, if a “problematic” monk or nun sends mail out, it is usually opened and examined first before it is sent: this is in case anything is being sent that doesn’t have a blessing or if the monastic has written anything that isn’t blessed to write about. The above reasons concerning mail examination are also the reason that all novices—and sometimes tonsured monastics depending on the individual—have   their phone calls monitored directly, or with an older monastic standing beside them.

Fr. Germanos explaining the property to a visiting Russian priest (during the Kursk Root Icon visit).
Fr. Germanos explaining the property to a visiting Russian priest (during the Kursk Root Icon visit).

Anyways, back to Fr. Germanos. In 1994, Geronda Ephraim brought Fr. Germanos to Picton, ON (along with Geronda Joseph) to establish the St. John the Theologian Monastery. They have been an inseparable unit ever since, with Geronda as the abbot, and Fr. Germanos as the second in command, though it’s arguable that Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas is second as “he carries half the monastery on his shoulders,” and is Geronda Joseph’s “right-hand.”

While in Picton, Bishop Sotirios was giving the monastery lots of problems. It is said that when they first arrived, a Greek priest from Quebec visited the monastery. He warned them about the bishop because he was “dangerous.” This priest then showed them a binder with photos and articles of a convert, “Monk Martinez,” who “committed suicide.” The priest told them that the RCMP suspected it might not have been suicide and were looking at the Bishop, but didn’t have enough evidence to prove anything.

It is also said that the Bishop gave them a fax machine as a gift but they realized later that it was programmed so that all the faxes going out were also sent to him (people use to do private confessions and get responses for personal matters via fax).

Procession of the Glykofilousa icon during great fire of August 1990. Geronda Dositheos Maroulis (far left); Fr. Germanos Pontikas (far right); Fr. Silouanos Coutavas (middle, holding book up)
Procession of the Glykofilousa icon during great fire of August 1990. Geronda Dositheos Maroulis (far left); Fr. Germanos Pontikas (far right); Fr. Silouanos Coutavas (middle, holding book up)

As time went on, and relations became more strained—the Bishop forbade Geronda Joseph to teach people about toll-houses and ordered him to stop giving out the booklets, he knew there were secret baptisms taking place at Picton but couldn’t prove it, things Geronda said about the Bishop were getting back to him, etc.—Geronda Joseph was informed by someone close to the Bishop to be careful because “you don’t know what he is capable of.” This lady also warned him he shouldn’t leave the monastery by himself. In 1984, as a lay person, Geronda Joseph was ambushed in his car while driving  his spiritual Father, Geronda Ephraim Xeropotamou to Athens. Geronda Ephraim Xeropotamou was murdered in this incident. Geronda Joseph was said to become more hyper-vigilant and take more precautions when going out afterwards.

Eventually, the Bishop was pressuring them to sign over the property to him or the Metropolis. Both Geronda and Fr. Germanos were debating it until one night, it is said that Fr. Germanos saw Elder Joseph the Hesychast in vision, and the Elder told him not to sign. So they didn’t.

Fr. Germanos outside the chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery.
Fr. Germanos outside the chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery.

In the Spring of 1997, they left Canada for good and went down to stay at St. Anthony’s Monastery until they could find new property in New York. They first drove to Brooklyn where they put all their stuff in storage, and then proceeded to Arizona. The Bishop was infuriated because he had no idea (though some people say he exiled them and knew) and started making accusations that they stole money, etc. Geronda Joseph made a rebuttal in the Toronto Greek newspapers. Since then, it is said that Bishop Sotirios has banned him from going to Canada, and it is said he also banned the nuns from the monasteries in Canada from visiting the New York monastery.

In 1998, when Geronda Ephraim was giving multiple homilies to the monks in the Gerondia, and Fr. Germanos was up in New York looking to buy property to establish the St. Nektarios Monastery, Geronda would tell the monks a funny joke:

“I wanted to make a monastery in Alaska in honor of St. Herman. I was thinking to send Germanos up there, but then there’d be all these Germanakis [here Geronda Ephraim stretched his arms out indicating fat] following behind him.” Then all the monks laughed, but it wasn’t out of malice.

Fr. Germanos' patron saint is St. Herman of Alaska.
Fr. Germanos’ patron saint is St. Herman of Alaska.

Also, another funny incident Geronda Ephraim related was the time he sent Fr. Germanos to Holy Archangel Monastery for a little respite. One evening, Geronda Ephraim was driving with Geronda Joseph and decided to call Holy Archangels Monastery. The novice who answered stated Geronda Dositheos was sleeping in his room.* Geronda Ephraim relates that he knew there was no way Geronda Dositheos was asleep with Fr. Germanos in the Monastery. He figured they were out somewhere and called their cellular. He was right, they were out having an ice cream.

In 1999, St. Nektarios Monastery was established, and he has been a pillar and foundation for the functioning of this monastery ever since, despite the severe health problems he has.

Geronda Dositheos Maroulis, abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas and close friend of Fr. Germanos.
Geronda Dositheos Maroulis, abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas and close friend of Fr. Germanos.

*NOTE: This is a common rookie mistake that most novices make. Usually when an abbot or abbess doesn’t feel like speaking to anyone, or they don’t want anyone to know where they are, they instruct the person answering the phones, and in some case, the whole monastery to tell people they’re out, or can’t be disturbed, or “I don’t know where he or she is,” etc. However, the #1 rule when Geronda Ephraim calls one of his monasteries is for the monastic to find the abbot or abbess immediately and give them the phone, or tell Geronda Ephraim they are out so he could call them on their cell, or the monastic calls the head to inform them big Geronda called for them.  Geronda Ephraim as first priority over everything. In one of the monasteries, the monk who answered the phone forgot to tell his Geronda that Geronda Ephraim had called and was given 500 prostrations as a kanona, “to help him remember the next time.”

In some cases, “discernment and discretion” is needed when telling an abbess or abbot that Geronda Ephraim was on the phone.

In late 2000, shortly before Geronda Ephraim Dikaios abandoned his position as abbot at Philotheou Monastery, he visited his spiritual father, Geronda Ephraim, in Arizona. Afterwards, he visited St. Nektarios Monastery in New York before returning to Mount Athos. When in New York, the atmosphere amongst the Fathers was very tense since the week leading up to this visit was one of continual yelling, rebukes and chastisements meted out by both Geronda Joseph and Fr. Germanos. Prior to the visit, Geronda Joseph gave the fathers a very stern homily, combined with threats of harsh punishments if any of the monks did or said anything unmonastic in front of Geronda Ephraim Dikaios or the layman he brought along as his personal cook. Geronda Joseph wanted no scandals.

Geronda Ephraim Dikaios & Big Geronda
Geronda Ephraim Dikaios & Big Geronda

About a week before these two visited St. Nektarios Monastery, Geronda Ephraim called New York seeking to speak to Geronda Joseph. That morning, Geronda Joseph had instructed the fathers, “No one is to knock on my door for any reason whatsoever. If anyone calls for me, tell them I’m out of the monastery doing works for the monastery.”  The monk who answered the phone followed this obedience and told Geronda Ephraim that Geronda Joseph was out of the monastery.

Fr. Germanos venerating the Kursk Root Icon
Fr. Germanos venerating the Kursk Root Icon

At the end of the day, when Geronda Joseph asked the monk for the log book and to explain his phone calls/messages, he exploded when he learnt big Geronda had called, he was not informed immediately, and he missed it. The monk was kicked out of Geronda Joseph’s cell while the elder tried to call Geronda Ephraim, who did not answer the phone. The monk who answered the phones was then told how stupid and mindless he was and and rebuked for not having the discernment to understand that he should’ve disturbed Geronda Joseph immediately for Geronda Ephraim’s call. After this verbal chastisement, all the fathers were called for a homily. The monk was rebuked and ridiculed in front of the fathers for his mindlessness and it was clarified to all that Geronda Joseph was to be informed immediately, no matter what the circumstance, when Geronda Ephraim calls.

A week later, during Geronda Ephraim Dikaios’ visit, big Geronda called the monastery asking to speak Geronda Joseph. At that time, Geronda Joseph was speaking privately to Geronda Ephraim Dikaios in the bookstore. The monk went to Geronda Joseph and informed him that big Geronda was on the phone and Geronda Joseph told Fr. Germanos to take the call.

The Gerondia (Head) Table at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY)Immediately afterwards, the monk who answered the phone was severely rebuked and given a huge kanona because he told Geronda Joseph that big Geronda was on the phone in front of a monastic from another monastery. The monk answering the phone was unaware that this visiting Athonite was problematic and not doing proper obedience to big Geronda. He was also unaware that this phone call was a checking up call. This monk was rebuked because Geronda Ephraim Dikaios would now know that big Geronda was checking up on him and that the monks in New York were discussing his personal problems.

The fathers were then instructed that when big Geronda Ephraim called, they were never to reveal it in front of any of Geronda Ephraim’s other monastics because sometimes big Geronda was checking up on these individuals. It could also create jealousy for the other monastic, especially an abbot or abbess, as well as thoughts such as , “Why does Geronda Ephraim call this monastery and not mine,” or “Does he call this monastery more than mine?,” etc.

St. Nektarios Brotherhood at The Russian Synodal Building, NY (2010)
St. Nektarios Brotherhood at The Russian Synodal Building, NY (2010)

St. Nikodemos’ Exomologetarion: The Guide for Geronda Ephraim and His Hieromonks

The Exomologetarion in Greek.
The Exomologetarion in Greek.

St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s Exomolgetarion: A Manual of Confession, which is a compilation drawn from various works and Exomologetaria from the libraries throughout the Holy Mountain, combined with the Saint’s own inspired spiritual counsels, was published in 1794. The book is composed of three distinct sections: the first being the qualifications of a true confessor, the second being the 38 canons and 17 penances of St. John the Faster together with commentaries and interpretations, and the third being St. Nikodemos’ own fatherly counsels and a homily concerning the Mystery of Confession.

This book is the mandatory study guide for all of Geronda Ephraim’s hieromonks. This is the guideline they use, except in the cases where Geronda Ephraim has implemented his own fronima. Every confessional at the monasteries has a copy of this book, along with the New Testament. At times, during confession, one may witness a hieromonk peruse this book when deciding a penance to give to the penitent.

Confession room at St. Anthony's Monastery.
Confession room at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

St. John the Faster’s canons cover a lot of the carnal sins, and St. Nikodemos’ footnotes compare a lot of the other canons in existence for the same sins. Below are some excerpts of the book, including the Canons of the Faster:

St. John the Faster
St. John the Faster
Geronda Ephraim in the confession room, St. Anthony's Monastery.
Geronda Ephraim in the confession room, St. Anthony’s Monastery.
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

That the Spiritual Father Is Not to Reveal Sins (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)1

Nothing else remains after confession, Spiritual Father, except to keep the sins you hear a secret, and to never reveal them, either by word, or by letter, or by a bodily gesture, or by any other sign, even if you are in danger of death, for that which the wise Sirach says applies to you: “Have you heard a word? Let it die with you” (Sir. 19:10); and again: “With friend or foe do not report it” (Sir. 19:8); meaning, if you heard a secret word, let the word also die along with you, and do not tell it to either a friend of yours or an enemy of yours, for as long as you live. And further still, that which the Prophet Micah says: “Trust not in friends…beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her” (Mic. 7:5).

For if you reveal them, firstly, you will be suspended or daresay deposed completely by the Ecclesiastical Canons, and according to political laws you will be thrown in jail for the rest of your life and have your tongue cut out.2 Secondly, you become a reason for more Christians not to confess, being afraid that you will reveal their sins, just as it happened during the time of Nektarios of Constantinople when the Christians did not want to confess on account of a Spiritual Father who revealed the sin of a woman.3 The divine Chrysostom both witnessed these things and suffered because of them on account of his trying to convince the people to confess. It is impossible for me to describe in words how much punishment this brings upon you, who are the cause of these things.

[NOTE: An Elder can use his discretion to reveal the sins of other monks to the brotherhood in order to humble the disobedient monk, or, in the case of the sinful monk’s absence, to warn and caution the brotherhood. As well, the Elder can use his discretion to reveal certain things from laypeople’s confessions as cautionary tales or for the spiritual edification of the fathers or other laypeople, usually without naming the individual].

NOTES

1. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, Exomologetarion, pp. 189-90.

2. Patriarch Luke of Constantinople disciplined the abbot of the Monastery of Xerotrophos with a penance of suspension because he revealed the sin of one of his spiritual children, as Balsamon reports (Explanation of Canon 141 of Carthage, PG 138, 424D)…Let Spiritual Fathers be reminded of this by God Himself, Who never publicly revealed the confession of any person, as John of the Ladder says: “At no time do we find God revealing the sins which have been confessed to Him, lest by making these public knowledge, He should impede those who would confess and so make them incurably sick” (To the Shepherd, The Ladder, p. 243).

3. See Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 5, 19 PG 67, 613A-620A. And Sozomen says that the Spiritual Father was chosen on account of his being secretive and discrete (Historia Ecclesiastica 7, 16 PG 67, 1460A).

The brotherhood of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY with visiting abbots monks from other monasteries.
The brotherhood of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY with visiting abbots monks from other monasteries.

The following account is a perfect example of when the Abbot or Elder can reveal the sins of other monks to the brotherhood. In 2000, Fr. R was sent from Holy Trinity Monastery in Michigan to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe. While this monk was in Michigan, he stole the Abbot’s cell phone and made numerous calls to a number known as Manline. He refused to wear any monastic garments in his cell. He took all the files from the office filing cabinet and discarded them in the forest (a layperson from Toronto found them on a walk and alerted the Abbot). He would go into the other monks’ cells without permission, sometimes taking things. And he tried to scandalize the lay people. It had gotten so out of hand that the Abbot would call this monk’s father to come visit, and essentially babysit, whenever the Abbot had to leave the monastery for more than a day.

This monk had been very problematic in Arizona and Michigan and St. Nektarios was sort of a last hope for him.

Although Elder Ephraim usually sends such problematic monks home (or, as in the case with Fr. S. in Arizona, prays to the Panagia to drive them out so he doesn’t bear the burden and responsibility of their leaving), the Elder made a large dispensation for Fr. R because his father is a priest for one of the female monasteries. So, the night before Fr. R came to St. Nektarios, the Abbot called the brotherhood for a homily about this monk’s situation. He informed the fathers that Fr. R had the demon of homosexuality and kleptomania amongst other things and that such demons have destroyed brotherhoods in the past. The monks were instructed to be careful around him, certain monks were instructed to watch and follow him, and all the monks were ordered to inform the Abbot immediately if they witnessed Fr. R do anything that was inappropriate (i.e. talking to laypeople, especially young males; being in areas of the monastery he shouldn’t, disappearing to his cell; using the phone, etc.).

Furthermore, in cases where monks have specific passions or repeatedly commit certain sins or disobediences (masturbation, secret eating, idle talking and joking with laypeople when not allowed, pulling worldy magazines out of the garbage to look at pictures of female or male models, etc.) they may be asked to go on their knees and admit their transgression to the brotherhood. In cases where an individual monk cannot handle this shame, the Abbot may use his discretion to call the brotherhood secretly, minus this one monk, and tell them in his absence what is going on, what to watch for and to report any inappropriate behavior they may witness. In extreme cases, when a monk is challenging the abbot through his ego and disobedience, the Abbot may advise the brotherhood to cold shoulder this monk and act as if he doesn’t exist (i.e. none of the monks will talk to him, no food will be placed at his setting, etc.) until he breaks, humbles himself, and repents. as well, most monks and nuns know that when one is in the Lity, prostrate, saying, “Forgive me, brothers and Fathers, I am filthy in both body and soul,” then the monastic is being punished for a carnal sin. The most common carnal sin for a monastic is masturbation, though sometimes interactions between two monastics, or a monastic and a lay person occurs (the latter is very rare).

SOURCE: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/stnektariosmonastery